Irish artists boycotting Israel
Irish artists boycotting IsraelIsrael news photo: courtesy of IPSC

A group of more than 150 Irish artists have pledged to boycott Israel as part of a solidarity campaign coordinated with the Palestinian Authority.

The petition recently signed by the artists in Dublin commits the signatories to boycott the Jewish State until “it respects international law,” and reads as follows:

“In response to the call from Palestinian civil society for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), which organized the initiative, claimed the brother of musician Eoin Dillon – one of the signatories to the boycott -- was “kidnapped by Israeli commandos on May 31 this year when he was first mate on board the Challenger 1, which was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.”

The six-vessel flotilla in question was sent to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, in violation of the country’s sovereign international rights. Each vessel was boarded on May 31 by Israeli Navy commandos after ignoring repeated requests to change course and head to the Ashdod port. The commandos took control of the boats and directed them to the port, where the activists were ordered to disembark and were then each deported to their countries of origin.

On one of the vessels, the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara, the IDF commandos were ambushed by armed terrorists linked to the Turkish IHH organization. In the ensuing clashes, nine IHH fighters were killed and several IDF soldiers were seriously wounded.

Speaking to the Irish Times daily newspaper, composer Raymond Deane, founder of the organization, quoted a 2005 statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry saying culture was considered a propaganda tool. Deane contended that artists who perform in Israel are backing the Jerusalem government “whether they like it or not.”

A number of other musicians offered similar views, expressing their hope the boycott would encourage young Israelis to “speak out.” Irish singer Damien Dempsey claimed that in Israel, the military is running the show, and needs the world to stand up to it.

Not the First Time

This is not the first time that Irish artists have launched a cultural boycott of Israel on the altar of “Palestinian rights.”

In 2007, members of the Irish state-sponsored academy of creative artists, Aosdana, attempted to launch a similar boycott of Israeli cultural events and institutions.

The resolution to “back the call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with Israeli state-sponsored cultural events and institutions, had also been proposed by Deane. The motion, seconded by playwright Margaretta D’Arcy, was defeated by the organization’s general assembly. 

However, a follow-up sponsored by D’Arcy and seconded by Deane passed, calling on Irish artists and institutions to “reflect deeply” before working with Israeli cultural institutions.

Writing for The Evening Herald at the time, Irish journalist Ian O’Doherty pointed out in response, “In fairness to Aosdana, the call for a boycott seems to have been led by a hardcore group… The fact that Israel is the least segregated society in the region, and that Israeli Arabs enjoy more freedom than their counterparts in other, Arab-run, countries, is something that tends to be conveniently forgotten.”

IPSC activists were also busy with similar pursuits a year later, during Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, Operation Cast Lead. For days, the group demonstrated at the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Dublin against the “ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza.” Ignored were the thousands of deadly mortar and rocket attacks fired almost daily by Gaza terrorists since 2000 at Jewish communities in southern Israel.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Dublin responded last week to the current boycott effort with a statement, calling the campaign “regrettable and ill-advised.” The embassy noted, “Vilifying and ostracizing Israel and promoting a lose-lose program of boycotts is not the way to secure legitimate Palestinian rights.”